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The Seasoned MilSpouse

 Posted by on May 14, 2018 at 16:17
May 142018
 

In the many years I’ve been a MilSpouse blogger, I’ve always felt new in some way. I began as the newbie spouse — the spouse coping with her first deployment. Then I was the new mom. Before I knew it, I was the new spouse, new mom, newly reunited and planning her first PCS. Most recently, I embarked on my first OCONUS PCS. See? Still shiny and new.

Kristi

But something weird happened around my spouse’s tenth year of military service. I seemed to have passed an invisible line that separates the new and the ol— err — seasoned. I don’t mind the title, it just hadn’t dawned on me that I was one until this year.

The fast-paced military life has a way of distorting time and distance in our minds, doesn’t it? Like, how is my child already seven? We just moved, how are we already talking about moving again? Thank goodness for social media keeping tabs on the years for me — it adds a healthy dose of perspective to someone like me who feels like everything just happened.

Just this week, I vocalized this to a cashier at our current location in Japan. The cashier casually asked me how long I’ve lived here.

I replied with my scripted, “We just got here in June.” But really, I can’t say “just” anymore. We’ve been here a year, even though I still feel new, which I explained to her.

She replied, “Honey, we all still feel new.”

Mind. Blown.

Not only did she put into perspective that the newness never really wears off overseas orders, but that the newness never really feels like it falls away from military life — we never completely have it figured out because it’s always changing just enough — with a PCS or deployment or new job — to keep us on our toes and keep us feeling new.

Looking back, there weren’t really signs that the seasoned transition was happening; I never picked up on them if they were there. I didn’t get an orientation or a merit badge — not even a standard DoD email. It was more of a “Poof! You’re seasoned now.” It was an abrupt change, like a PCS or a deployment with minimal details — there one day, gone the next.

But, I do find lately that I’m more commonly the token seasoned spouse in a room of youngsters. I’ll be holding my own in a conversation until they start talking about going out together after a squadron event. After this? Yeah, after this I’m going home because babysitters make more money than I do and I’m exhausted.

I feel a little bit pressured to say profound things that will serve as their military spouse mantra for years to come. Meanwhile, I’m still doling out blank stares when asked what about my husband’s job at the squadron (although, I have made it a point to learn that this time around). Perhaps the balance keeps the few pearls of wisdom I can offer from sounding preachy — totally intentional, you guys.

I still ask questions, and I still need advice. I still learn something new about base life or military life nearly every day, but I am now trying to balance that with a goal to learn the names of the Marines and spouses from my husband’s shop and volunteer more in the squadron.

Most of all, in my military spouse tenure, I want to avoid going from seasoned to salty. We run the risk of becoming burnt out with volunteering and moving and separations and sacrifice. What I hope to provide for this up-and-coming generation of military spouses is a positive image of a seasoned spouse — one who is relatable and approachable, one who doesn’t wear rank, one who is ready to support, volunteer and lift others up.

In my days as a newbie spouse (not just when I thought I was still one), I had some incredible seasoned spouses leading the way. It’s an inspiring legacy to follow, and I am humbled to carry the torch for a little while.

Celebrating MilSpouses

 Posted by on May 8, 2018 at 13:54
May 082018
 

Like me, many of you may have assumed that Military Spouse Day (May 11) is meant to celebrate your husband or wife who serves in the military. To my surprise, my husband told me that it’s to honor me – his military spouse! MilSpouses often don’t think of themselves; we just do what needs to be done and keep moving forward. This day is to appreciate all the doers and homefront heroes that encourage each other and support their spouses.

Kelly

MilSpouses are incredibly important for the military community because they’re critical to the continued functioning and success of many military personnel. It is their constant love and support that keeps things running at home during deployments, helps moves go smoothly, and often helps other spouses and families adjust to military life and new surroundings. We do all this with love and enthusiasm – most of the time. Seriously though, part of being a military spouse is supporting your service member through not only the regular rigors of marriage but also through the unique challenges military life can bring. For this, MilSpouses deserve a day, at least, to be appreciated and to show themselves a little love.

To further acknowledge this day, you can create some of your own traditions that your spouse does for you, or that you can do for yourself. After all, since it always falls on a Friday, you have an entire weekend to celebrate! Here are a few ideas to try:

  • A weekend away. A day at the spa, anyone?
  • A celebratory dinner. Date night is always a great way to say thank you – whether you go out or cook and stay in.
  • A video. Record significant moments where your spouse’s support was particularly impactful on you and/or the kids.
  • A gift. Cards, flowers, foot massages – the possibilities are endless.
  • A guy’s weekend. Male military spouses, I haven’t forgotten about you! Send him off for weekend full of pizza and without the honey-do-list.

If you are a military spouse, don’t forget to acknowledge and love yourself on this day. Thank yourself for your contributions and then thank your service member for theirs, too. It’s a journey taken together, after all.  The appreciation goes both ways!

Spread the Love

 Posted by on February 12, 2018 at 16:35
Feb 122018
 

Love is in the air! While social media gives us all an opportunity to keep in touch and check in with our loved ones, it doesn’t always allow us to truly show love to our friends and family. A little extra effort can go a long way with the people you love, and small acts of affection throughout the year can have a huge impact!

Julie

  • For Your Military “Framily”: Many military friendships are known for their deep, shared understanding of military life, its challenges and rewards. These relationships can endure years of long distance, and when you next connect it’s as if no time or distance has passed.
    • Handwrite a note. Using pen and paper can convey more than a text, social media post or email. For better or worse, your handwriting has your essence, effort and emotion etched into it. You’ll be amazed at the reaction it will evoke in your friends.
    • Chat it up. If leave and savings don’t allow you to see one another in person, schedule a time to enjoy coffee and a video chat remotely.
    • Phone a friend. I know, I’m not a phone person either. But, the inflections of a dear friend’s voice and the joy their laughter brings is more than an LOL will ever convey.
  • For Your Extended Family: Keep family close, or mend fences, by thanking them for how they have helped/supported you through the years.
    • Send a thank you card. Handwrite a short note to thank a family member for something they did that helped you when you were growing up (or something recent). Gratitude is powerful. Use it early and often.
    • Phone home. Those who nurtured us deserve time in our current lives and gratitude for all they did. Set up a weekly call (it can be brief) and catch up with how everyone. You can make this a video call if you both have that capability.
  • For Your Children: Kids don’t always know how we feel, even though we think they should. Try a few of these ideas to remind them how very loved they are.
    • Hide love-you notes. Use 3×5 cards to write one thing (per card) that you love about your child. Fold it and put their name on the outside. Tuck the note in their bathroom mirror, sock drawer or in their shoe.
    • Snail mail. Kids love getting mail. It makes them feel special. Write a letter that tells them what makes them unique or what you truly appreciate about them. Share something about your childhood that they didn’t already know.
    • Send them on a scavenger hunt. Your handwritten clues should lead your child to a hidden envelope with an invitation for a date with you (movies, bowling, etc.). Kids value time with you more than most other things.
  • For Your Significant Other: Sometimes we neglect the ones closest to us as we tend to our children, home, work, etc. It’s important to remember that our first loves need some attention, too.
    • Grab a pad of sticky notes and write what you love about your significant other. Stick the notes on the bathroom mirror, microwave, coffee maker, briefcase, steering wheel, etc.
    • Dial their number. Call your significant other and ask them out on a date. Bonus points if you refrain from using your phones while you’re out!
    • Exchange love letters. Start writing and mailing love letters to one another. Sometimes it’s easier to express yourself in writing than words.

Going the extra mile to make personal connections with the people you love the most can be so valuable. Who will you take the extra step to connect with this year?

Keeping the Spark Alive

 Posted by on February 5, 2018 at 09:00
Feb 052018
 

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and I find this is a perfect time to make sure my connection with my hubby is going strong. In this fast-paced military life, there are plenty of lengthy absences and stressors that can take a toll on our relationships. Our spouses are called upon to do whatever is needed at the drop of a hat, and that can mean that sometimes they leave without a lot of notice. I read an article once where the wife of an officer said that in their two-decade marriage, they had been apart more days than together. That’s crazy!

Lee-Anne

Marriage is hard. It takes hard work and dedication to keep it together, and even more work to make it great. Kids, jobs, finances, health…all of this can play a significant role in the well-being of your marriage. Now – add the complication of doing it from different continents, and you have some serious hurdles to overcome! Here are some tips for making sure your spark stays strong during a deployment.

  1. Communication is important. While my husband was recently deployed, we texted daily (except when he was in the field), spoke on the phone a few times a week and video chatted several times a month. I also sent him both hand-written letters and emails. I started keeping a list of things to talk about so that I didn’t forget them when he called. Nothing is worse than feeling like communication is obligatory, so I would try my best to keep it interesting and funny. Occasionally I would have to vent about something or tell him about the broken water heater, but I usually tried to handle that stuff myself and focus our conversations on light-hearted things. My husband is a fixer and nothing stresses him out more than when I have a problem and he can’t do anything about it. I wanted to reduce unnecessary stress for him as best as I could.
  2. Build more trust. You can never have too much mutual trust in a relationship. I trust my husband to have my back in a disagreement with someone else and to share my burdens. We may let each other down here or there, but above all else we are partners. While he was gone for a year, I trusted that he would continue to love me despite the distance and he trusted me to do the same.
  3. Nourish your connection. Our love grew stronger during my husband’s deployment. Without the option for physical connection, we talked. A lot. He told me stories that I had never heard in our 12-year marriage. I shared my career plans. I practiced really listening to make him feel valued. I admit that I can sometimes get a bit self-centered. Between my career, kids, housework and everything else going on in my life, I wasn’t always able to give my husband my full attention when he was home. Once he left, I realized how valuable that was and made every effort to fully concentrate on him when he called.
  4. Keep your romance alive. A lot of this is going to depend on your comfort level but try to make things fun. Think about buying a new outfit for his return or writing an email to express your excitement about having your spouse back in your arms. Without oversharing what you don’t want the world to see or hear about, convey the essence of your desire for a physical connection through phone calls or letters. Be creative, it can be a lot of fun.

Show You Care with Care Packages

 Posted by on January 29, 2018 at 16:49
Jan 292018
 

When my husband was deployed, one of my favorite things to do was send him care packages. It made me feel useful – it was something I could do from home to make his life easier. Here are a few tips I learned over the years to make creating and sending care packages painless:

Lee-Anne

  • USPS provides free supplies. Simply call 800-610-8734, select Order Supplies and ask for the Military Care Kit. It comes with flat-rate boxes, labels, forms and tape.
  • Make the post office visit a breeze. I would send a package about every three weeks when my husband was in Iraq. I would typically fill a box up slowly and by the time it was ready to send, I forgot what was at the bottom. I eventually started to keep a sticky note on the top flap of the box and wrote down what went in so that it was much easier to fill out the custom’s form at the post office! Also, do yourself a favor and check the prohibited items list first. Half the contents of my first care package were rejected because I didn’t read the list.
  • Utilize homemade gifts and online shopping. I make my own beef jerky and cookies and would send those items routinely (vacuum sealed of course), as well as other personal items like pictures, letters, funny little crafts or snacks. Everything else I ordered online. Many online sites even ship for free (on most items) to APOs and FPOs.
  • Know what to send and when. In the beginning, my husband needed many of the basics but didn’t have a good internet connection. I had to order things for him like slippers, batteries (alkaline only), snacks and a small fan. I even ordered a mattress pad and had it shipped right to him for free. As time went on he needed less, and the packages took on a more fun and easy nature featuring a lot of kid’s crafts and drawings.
  • Consider shipping time. Most packages can make it to the Middle East in about two weeks, but some take longer. If you have a specific deadline, plan ahead! Most of the time you can get away with shipping three weeks out, but during the holidays I would plan for up to five weeks. And of course, sometimes packages get lost. For three months after my husband’s unit moved to Syria, my family and I were sending packages and he didn’t receive any of them. Then about a week before he left that base, he got all 37 packages at once. He was a bit overwhelmed and ended up giving most of it away, but at least he did get them all.
  • Be cautious about what you send. Sometimes packages get lost forever. I would recommend that you don’t send that priceless family quilt or the only photo you have from Nana’s wedding in 1934. Remember that sometimes these packages get opened by someone other than your loved one first, so don’t send anything you are not okay with someone else seeing.

Overall, I’ve learned to not stress when it comes to assembling and shipping care packages. Most service members just like receiving them, so don’t worry too much about what’s in it or how perfect the decorations are. Be thoughtful and have fun with it and they will know that you care!

Choosing the Right Crew as a New Milspouse

 Posted by on January 9, 2018 at 10:36
Jan 092018
 

I saw an awesome t-shirt the other day that summed up my friendship philosophy: Your vibe attracts your tribe. Isn’t that the truth? I have an amazing group of friends who I trust with my whole heart. But friendships haven’t always been easy for me, especially as a new military spouse. Making friends as an adult under any circumstances can be tough. Making friends when you are away from home can be even harder. But having a crew of friends you can count on is one of the things that has helped me most on my military journey.

Cassie

When I was a young military spouse in my early 20s, living on an installation for the first time, life was lonely. My husband was working a lot and I didn’t have many friends that I kept in touch with after high school. I remember our first tour well. It was the first time I’d ever met someone from another state, much less the other side of the world. I was being exposed to people from different backgrounds and cultures with different value systems and parenting styles. It didn’t take me long to learn that the military spouse connection alone would not be enough to sustain a lasting friendship. I’d meet a spouse and we’d hit it off, but our friendship would fade, sometimes for obvious reasons and others with no explanation at all. I wish back then that someone would have told me that it was okay to let friendships go if they didn’t feel right. Now that I’m older and I have good, caring, amazing friends, I would tell myself this:

  1. Don’t become someone’s enabler. Every military spouse needs a helping hand from time to time. An emergency sitter, a can of cream of mushroom soup, or a ride to the clinic. But if crisis seems to follow someone around like a lost puppy, that might not be a good relationship for you. Rescue friends are emotionally exhausting and take away valuable time from healthy relationships. It’s okay to help someone out in a time of need, but don’t become a savior for someone who constantly needs rescuing.
  2. Find a mutual connection. People get busy. We don’t always return calls, social media messages, or texts, and not all of us are planners. But if you’re always the person reaching out and trying to make plans, the friendship might not be reciprocated by the other person. You are worth a phone call. Don’t settle for less.
  3. Avoid gossip. If someone is gossiping to you about someone else, they most likely are talking about you when you aren’t around. Unless you enjoy being the topic of other people’s conversation, avoid people who talk about other people’s business. If someone shares something with you, even if they don’t say, “this is a secret,” don’t talk about it with someone else.
  4. Embrace people who embrace this life. It’s hard living away from home and family. For many of us, life in the military is a shock to our system – we aren’t used to the long hours, protocols and customs – but it’s much easier to embrace military life when you surround yourself with other families who enjoy it. As spouses, we are a part of military culture because we chose to marry and build a life with our service member. Oftentimes their desire to serve our country can be hard on us. But their commitment runs deep, just like our love for them. Surround yourself with people who have strong marriages and who are living their best MilLife.
  5. Remember you are the company you keep. The qualities you look for in other military spouses will be easier to spot if you possess them yourself.

Over the past 20 years, I have met hundreds of military spouses. We share a camaraderie that can’t be matched, but being a fellow military spouse is not enough to sustain a friendship. Finding your special few takes patience – it’s okay to let people come into and fade out of your life. The best people are the ones you can be your authentic self with. Hold onto those people, treasure them, love them and nurture those relationships. Your tribe is out there – you just need to build it, one healthy relationship at a time.

Nov 142017
 

Last Sunday afternoon, our family of four walked out our front door together. We walked right by both family cars (lemons that we paid a grand total of $4,200 for when we arrived in Japan). We walked down the sidewalk of our duplex-lined street, passing neighbors, busy playgrounds, our commissary, the building where mommy volunteers and eventually wound up at the base theater.

Kristi

I paid $12 for four tickets and we shuffled inside to grab popcorn and drinks before our movie. In line, we saw friends and made plans for future lunch dates. Once seated, I did the classic mom move and divided the popcorn between kids with just enough time leftover to squeeze in an adult conversation with my husband before the previews started. We were quickly interrupted by our 6-year-old son who tried frantically to get me to take the popcorn tray I had just given him. When I asked him what was wrong, he replied confidently, “They’re about to play the anthem, mom. I need to stand up.”

It took exactly three movies in that theater for my son to remember to stand for our anthem before the start of our movie — something a civilian movie-goer would probably find strange. I was so proud that my usual Star-Spangled Banner goosebumps rose twice as tall. The anthem ended, we sat down and I passed the popcorn tray back down to my son.

The differences between a Sunday afternoon here and one back in the states, living off base, are subtle. However small, though, our life is different here. We are different here. Maybe it’s because we’re getting our first real taste of base living, or our first real taste of overseas living — maybe some combination of the two. Before any big move, parents ask themselves something like, “Are we doing the right thing for our family?” We asked ourselves that very question before moving to Japan. The answer is revealed in little moments like our son remembering to stand in the theater; our lives have been shaken up in the best ways by moving here.

  1. We start our day with morning colors. I never have to look far for Monday motivation — it plays every morning at 8 am, without fail.
  2. We pause for Kimigayo. Out of respect for our host nation, we remain standing for the Japanese national anthem that directly follows our own. Our kids know the name of the song and why they are standing for it. That, to me, is a real-life lesson in respect.
  3. We walk. The value of our cars in the second sentence of this blog was not a typo; we paid next to nothing for them. They get us from point A to point B, unless point B is within walking distance, as it usually is on base. I drove to the pool once. By the time I found a parking spot it was within sight of our house and I felt ridiculous. We haven’t driven to the pool since.
  4. When we do drive, it’s painfully slow. There’s a poorly translated cautionary sign at the end of our street that reads “Dead Slow.” If you’ve ever driven on base, you get it — you’ve probably even thought it a couple of times. The 30 kph (less than 20 mph) was tough to adjust to, I’ll admit, but I don’t mind it now. There are so many pedestrians and bicyclists, many of them kids, that I prefer to take it slow and keep everyone safe.
  5. We watch old movies. Our theater shows movies long after they’ve premiered in the states, including the one I mentioned earlier. I feel confident in speaking for everyone when I say that not a single person cares.
  6. We get creative with groceries. It’s fantastic living right down the street from the commissary, except on the days it’s awaiting a shipment. Walking down the bread aisle only to find dinner rolls and otherwise empty shelves was a first for me. But, I’m not complaining. Our local Japanese grocery stores have fresh produce and plenty of opportunities to be adventurous. It’s nothing like grocery shopping stateside, but that’s why it’s an adventure!
  7. We take care of each other here on base. Family members, classmates, neighbors, friends, it doesn’t matter. We recognize that we’re all together here in this community. Regardless of rank or situation, we tackle things together.
  8. We fall asleep to TAPS. Even on the worst day, when nothing went right, it’s a little reflection and a little perspective.

Planning a Happy Homecoming

 Posted by on November 9, 2017 at 15:46
Nov 092017
 

Homecoming. That one little word has so much meaning to us military spouses. It’s the moment we live for during a long deployment —dreaming about how we will look and the way we will stand when our hero first catches sight of us. I know I’m not the only one who watched hundreds of reunion videos online and cried at every single one of them.

Lee-Anne

The entire process of deployment is completely out of our hands, so it’s easy to go to extremes perfecting the only part that is in our control: the return. And so, we put huge (and unnecessary) amounts of stress on ourselves preparing. Perfect outfit…check. Pretty signage…check. We even obsess over the first kiss. I know I’m not alone in that either!

My husband just came home from deployment last week and let’s just say that it didn’t go exactly as I’d planned. Here are a few lessons I learned:

  • Be flexible. Plans will change – and then change again and again. Don’t diminish the happiness of the moment by being disappointed that it didn’t go as planned. Flights will be delayed, locations will change and the baby may just spill milk all over your new outfit three minutes before you need to leave the house. None of that matters.
  • Don’t overdo it. Your spouse is excited to see you – not your big, perfectly hand-lettered poster. And let’s be real, that clunky thing will only get in the way of your first hug. If you feel compelled to be artistic, be realistic about how your signs will fit in your car with four gigantic duffel bags of gear – and don’t let it hurt your feelings if they don’t even notice them because they’re too excited to see you.
  • The house doesn’t have to be perfect. My husband had so many new things to look at when he got home that it was a bit overwhelming. The house was tidy but I didn’t have time to clear the countertops of all the junk mail or organize the linen closet. And guess what? He didn’t even notice.
  • Talk about what might happen before it does. My husband and I spent hours on the phone in the two weeks leading up to his homecoming. I expressed my wish that it be just us as a family when we picked him up. We talked about how some of the experiences he’s had have changed him – and how mine have changed me. I gave him the lowdown on the kids’ schedules and what I had been using for punishments or incentives.

It’s okay to have a rough plan, but make sure to leave room for changes and hiccups. And most importantly, make sure to relish the moment when you lock eyes with your spouse after months apart. Homecoming is not a fairytale; it’s just another moment in time but it’s an important one, so celebrate it! And remember, happiness always outweighs perfection.

Relationship Maintenance

 Posted by on October 10, 2017 at 10:05
Oct 102017
 

Maintenance is something we schedule for what we value in life. Kids have their scheduled checkups with the doctor, you have your yearly physical, pets have their annual veterinarian checks, and the car and HVAC system get yearly upkeep. Relationships also need regularly scheduled maintenance to stay healthy. Here’s a five-point checklist to share with your partner on a regular basis to keep your relationship in peak health.

Julie

  • Division of labor. Although it’s ideal to evenly split the house, yard and parenting work, military families don’t always have that luxury. Do your best to work as a team to get things done and remember to regularly let your partner know that you appreciate what they do.
  • Time together. Keep the reason you fell in love at the forefront by finding fun in the everyday. Make date nights a priority and try the Love Every Day app to help you develop and practice good communication in your relationship.
  • Time alone. Like plants, kids and critters, you too need to be fed. Take time for yourself to nurture your soul with something that brings you joy. Support each other in this and you’ll find you have even more to talk about.
  • Parenting principles. To be the best parents you can be, you need teamwork (with a partner or your village of friends and family). Kids will divide and conquer if you aren’t a united force. Talk in private about your parenting goals, strategies and disagreements. And above all, always back each other in front of the kids.
  • Financial goals. When you agree on a financial goal and commit to making it happen, you are more likely to achieve it. Talk about what you want for your future, make a common goal that will get you closer to the dream and work like a team to get there.

Early on in our marriage, I didn’t think we needed relationship advice from others, but that was before deployments and kids. We’ve all experienced, or will soon, the stress that builds before and after TDYs and deployments (not to mention during). Those kinds of separations and reunions can challenge even the strongest couples. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Military OneSource has some great relationship resources and free, confidential non-medical counseling that can give your relationship a healthy boost.

Sisterly Love

 Posted by on August 1, 2017 at 10:00
Aug 012017
 

Guardians of our hearts, speakers of hard truths and reminders of our blessings – that’s what sisters are. The importance of the relationships with our sisters (whether biological or shaped with other women over time) are magnified by the changes military life throws our way every 18 months. August 6 is National Sister’s Day – the perfect time to celebrate the friendships you have and learn how to make new ones as you embark on different duty stations.

Julie

Expand your circle. When you first arrive at a new duty station, it can feel like you are speed dating to build a network of support. There are many places to meet fellow military spouses, including:

  • Base housing or civilian neighborhoods
  • Commissary lines
  • Volunteer or hobby groups
  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities
  • Spouse groups
  • Parent groups
  • Religious functions

Break the ice. Here are a few icebreakers that can help you make a connection in many different situations:

  • Give a genuine compliment.
  • Ask where to find the best local restaurant or shop.
  • Bring a dessert, a plant or dinner to neighbors to introduce yourself.
  • Offer to help when you see someone struggling.

Be supportive. My sisters set the bar high and I try to follow their example by finding similar ways to help or bless them. Here’s a brief list of some of my favorite ways we can help each other:

  • Help with cleaning or chores when a friend is overwhelmed.
  • Lend your talents or labor for home improvement projects.
  • Take turns babysitting each other’s kids for much needed alone time.
  • Invite your friend over for dinner while her spouse is deployed.
  • Celebrate victories together like hitting a deployment milestone, having a good hair day, etc.
  • Listen (sometimes that’s all someone needs).

Celebrate each other. Our sisters join us in our crazy moments, embrace us when we are blue and motivate us to be better people. I consider myself beyond blessed to have many women in my life who I consider sisters – through biology, marriage and friendship. Don’t forget to tell them how much they mean to you from time to time.

Not every woman you meet will become a close friend, and even fewer will reach sister status. But, the ones who do will stand by you through it all – PCS moves, changing orders, deployments, parenting, personal triumphs (and failures). So make sure to celebrate the special women in your life today and take advantage of opportunities to develop new friendships when you get the chance. After all, everyone needs a home team, and we’re all in this together.

All materials copyright Military OneSource, 2012. Blog content held jointly by writer and Military OneSource, with shared rights to republish with appropriate attribution.